In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s hard to think about hiring. But precisely because so many organizations are changing the way they work, you might find yourself doing just that.
The tricky part is that the interview process, like everything else right now, is totally digital. How can you embrace the video interview? We talked to three recruiting pros, who happen to be interview extraordinaires with 30+ years of collective experience, to find out.
Social interviewing, emphasis on social
When you can’t be face-to-face, a Google hangout or Zoom is the next best thing. Melanie Scheer, our Recruiting Manager from Chicago, says, “You can connect and engage as if the candidate is sitting across from you. I find interviews are much more involved than if we were just on the phone.”
Gina Bottone, our internal Recruiter covering the U.S. and Canada, agrees. “The candidates are more invested when we’ve seen each other’s faces. They feel a bit more connected to me and the company.”
Long before now, people were touting the benefits of video conferencing. Forbes found that 62% of executives said video improved communication and about half said it also improved the degree of understanding.
It also lets you see body language, which is key. Keep an eye out for 10 of the worst things a candidate can do, according to Forbes.
Locking eyes over your webcam is as real as it’s going to get for now. So do what you can to earn your potential hire’s trust. For starters, acknowledge that nothing about our current situation is typical. Much of the country is working from home and we have no idea exactly how things will change when we aren’t anymore. (Virtual onboarding will most certainly be a thing for a lot of new hires.)
Candidates are looking for assurance. Communicate openly about the role and the state of your organization. Kristen Ribero at the college recruitment and career management platform Handshake, says keeping candidates informed throughout the hiring process in personalized, empathetic ways can go far.
Watch for warning signs
What’s the biggest turn off for our recruiters? Disinterest.
“When a candidate is sitting on the couch and looking very relaxed like they are not on an important call.” Gina says is a big nope. Melanie agrees, “When a candidate is multitasking it’s a huge red flag.”
And JobScan points out that, “In a face-to-face meeting, distractions are shared, so both the interviewer and the candidate break from the conversation at the same time. But in a Zoom interview, the hiring manager won’t know that there’s a knock at the door or an email notification on someone’s screen.” Zero in on the interviewees that know how to focus.
Glitch-proof ahead of time
We’ve all been there. Your meeting is about to start and you can’t get on—maybe you don’t have the software downloaded, something is wrong with your camera, or your WiFi is terrible because it’s raining. For interviews, the stakes are much higher on both sides of the table. So our recruiters say to be proactive instead of reactive.
Gina and Melanie do a test drive with their candidates the day before to make sure they can easily get into Google hangouts. Dallas Sr. Recruiter and Talent Agent George Strippoli also has the hiring managers check their sound and cameras too, and requests that candidates ‘meet’ him five minutes before for extra protection. “Just like an in-person interview, they should arrive a little early,” he says.
Look the part
George breaks it down like this: “Treat it like a real interview because it is.” Sure, it’s your first impression of the interviewee—but it’s also their first impression of you. Melanie feels, especially right now, you’re ok in something you’d normally wear to work and not necessarily an interview.
In her 10 Tips for a Successful Interview, Katie Heinz says, “Dressing as you would in the office gives a sense of your culture.”
Pro tip: Avoid busy patterns, which can look wonky on screen.
Avoid culture shock
How can you sell company culture when candidates can’t check out the neighborhood, stroll through the cubes, or suss out the kitchen snack situation? It’s not ideal since 82% of hiring managers say culture fit is important.
George emails the company’s video on culture, and shares as much detail about the workplace as he can so interviewees can visualize it. Melanie suggests, “Connect the candidate with multiple people who can provide examples of what makes their culture stand out.”
Plus, have questions in mind to see if your interviewee will mesh with your team—like how past coworkers would describe them, what environment they thrive in or what management style they prefer. (Our blogs can help, like 14 Best Interview Questions for Creatives and 7 Non-Technical Skills Your Creative Candidates Should Have.)
It’s the background, not invisible
It’s amazing how we can actually forget we’re on video while we’re on video. (We've all seen things we wish we hadn't on these calls.) Yes, it’s harder to do when there are only two people in the meeting, but our recruiters say think big picture.
In these times, people understand a cat or a toddler might wander through. But, as Gina says, “Be in a professional-looking setting whenever possible. Don't sit on the couch. Don't have the TV on. Be in a quiet room with little distraction.” You want your candidates to take you—and this role—seriously. “Prep your video screen before the call and see what your background looks like,” Melanie says.
You are now ready to dominate the video interview and hire your superhero candidates. Who knows, maybe we’ll want to keep this up after we’re back at the office? After all, it’s bringing out our creativity in whole new ways, like this Aussie’s customized background of him walking into his own meeting.